Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu - OPTIONAL

The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu, 341 pages.  Roaring Brook Press, 2019.  $18.  

Content: Language: R (125 swears; 48 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  



As a 16yo, Elena Finney longs for freedom from her oppressive alcoholic mother, Caridad.  Elena takes every chance she can get to escape her chores and celebrate her summer with friends and a new older boyfriend, using the excuse of babysitting for a wealthy family.  Caridad, also has her own story woven throughout, of a life in Cuba that is interrupted by Castro. Elena’s older brother, Joaquin, just graduated from high school and is granted more freedom because he is a boy.  Joaquin works at a restaurant and falls in love with a spunky girl named, Amy.  The more Joaquin interacts with others, the more he realizes that his family is suffering from mental illness and he can’t always sacrifice his well-being to take care of them.  

This complex and dark story concentrates on the themes of family, coming-of-age and finding the strength to be ourselves.  I wish there would have been more history in Caridad’s story and Caridad is hard to like.  As different plot twists are revealed, the perspective changes and the oppression of Caridad makes the reader feel oppressed as well.  I found that I couldn’t put the book down, even though I didn’t really like any of the characters or their decisions, it was such a weird and winding read.  The content includes a lot of talk of sex (all off-page), drug use and underage drinking, crass comments, verbal and physical abuse and alcoholism.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

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